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Old 08-03-2021, 09:05 AM   #1
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Ford aluminum vs steel body/my unique experience

I don't see a lot of discussion on Ford's newer aluminum body in these forums, so I thought I would relate my unique experience with the old Ford steel bodies & the newer aluminum bodies in separate, but identical accidents.
I had a 2008 F450 towing my 34ft 5th wheel fulltime, when we had an accident in 2013, where the steel tailgate popped open in the middle of a slow, right turn in a campground. The tailgate fell against the front of the 5er & damaged both the tailgate, tail lights & the front of the 5er. the tailgate literally looked like a pretzel & I immediately threw it in a dumpster. Damage to the 5er was around $4K, & the truck damage was several thousand dollars also.
Fast forward to 2021 when I'm currently driving a 2017 F350 Platinum diesel dually, which has an electrically operated aluminum tailgate. Ford had problems with the wiring shorting & the tailgate dropping, which I had fixed on a recall 2 years ago. But recently, under identical circumstances, I was turning right out of a camping site, just as I did 8 years earlier, & the tailgate popped open & fell against the 5er in the exact same spot. The damage to the 5er was very similar, but there literally was no damage to the tailgate. There was a tiny scratch on the top right corner of the tailgate that would not even be noticed if you weren't looking for it.
My conclusion is that the aluminum body is much more rigid & didn't buckle & twist like the steel body did. Since the accidents were virtually identical, I feel fairly confident in my assessment.
Has anyone else had similar experiences with steel vs aluminum?
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Old 08-03-2021, 11:22 AM   #2
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First I have EVER heard of a Tailgate falling open during a turn...steel or aluminum

I have owned MANY ford trucks..
Many rough off-roading, twisty turns, towing all types of trailers and never had that happen

WHY are the sidewalls flexing so much to allow tailgate latches to open???
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Old 08-03-2021, 11:31 AM   #3
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There is a problem with the electric release tailgate opening. That why I ordered my 2017 with out it. As far as the aluminum goes my only experience was I open my drivers door and slammed it against a concrete fuel island. I figured it would be scratched and damaged. I shut the door and there wasn't a mark on it. Made me a believer
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Old 08-03-2021, 11:34 AM   #4
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Ford Super Duties dropping the tailgate unexpectedly has been a common complaint. It's from the electronics, not from the sidewalls flexing enough to release it. It's one reason I'm happy my F250 has a manual tailgate! As far as the aluminum body, I'll throw in my 2 cents. I had someone hit the rear quarter panel on my truck in a parking lot. Made a pretty good dent where it pushed in the panel, but a good fist bump from the inside of the panel popped it right back out. There was a small dent at the lower part of the panel that wouldn't pop out, so I took it to a "paintless dent removal" guy. He got it 98% better, but told me that mine was the first and last time he would try that on an aluminum body! Apparently, the aluminum likes to "rebound" too much, so it took a lot of extra effort to get the dent out. May be why your aluminum tailgate didn't have as much damage.
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Old 08-03-2021, 01:01 PM   #5
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Our cat opened ours on our 2018 King Ranch. Somehow she double tapped the tailgate button on the remote. Fortunately we were going straight so I eased off the road, closed it and put the remote in the center console. I now have a "dummy cord" on it. I riveted a loop to the tailgate and have a nylon cord with a small stainless snap link on the end coming from the tie down in the bed. It'll only let the tailgate open about three inches.

We have noting to compare it to but love the aluminum body. I've got worn spots all over the bed from water jugs and such. Zero rust!!!!
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:34 PM   #6
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Ford started the aluminium body in 2015 with the F-150 and in 2017 with the super duty. Up until this the only all aluminum body vehicles were sports cars like the Acrua NSX.

It will be very interesting to see how long these Ford trucks will last. Mass produced should give a good indication in probably 10 more years. I mean, the NSX is babied while some Ford trucks will be abused.

Other manufacturers use aluminum hoods and maybe a few other parts. I give credit to Ford for trying something different. Now let's see what these trucks will look like in 2030 and 2035.
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Old 08-04-2021, 08:35 AM   #7
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Ford started the aluminium body in 2015 with the F-150 and in 2017 with the super duty. Up until this the only all aluminum body vehicles were sports cars like the Acrua NSX.

It will be very interesting to see how long these Ford trucks will last. Mass produced should give a good indication in probably 10 more years. I mean, the NSX is babied while some Ford trucks will be abused.

Other manufacturers use aluminum hoods and maybe a few other parts. I give credit to Ford for trying something different. Now let's see what these trucks will look like in 2030 and 2035.
I don't know why they wouldn't.

Military cargo aircraft have always had aluminum floors and they get the crap beat out of them. Many old ones like C130's have been in service since the 50's.

The cab will survive as well as 18 wheeler cabs and bus bodies which have which have been aluminum for decades.

M113 APC's are also aluminum. They've been in service since Vietnam.
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Old 08-04-2021, 09:36 AM   #8
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Land Rover has been building trucks using aluminum body panels since the 1960's and the more modern offerings are 100% aluminum as was my 2014 Jaguar. The Audi A8 introduced in 1994 used a full aluminum body. .....Shelby Cobras had aluminum bodies in 1964 and there were some early Bugatti's that used aluminum in 1908. Aluminum in automobile bodies is hardly a new thing though Ford has certainly increased the number of vehicles on the road using aluminum bodywork.

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Old 08-04-2021, 07:39 PM   #9
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Hunting buddy of mine has f150 aluminum body. It has a hole in the rear fender and a hole in tailgate from some wooden trail markers he hit turning around on a logging road. The markers bent over but poked a hole. As far as rust aluminum doesn't but it does corrode. We use aluminum alot for frame work at my job and I have seen it corrode so bad that it popped the heads off 1/2" bolts. And there is never just one at a joint there are several. Its always a good feeling when you walk in and find a splice plate laying on the floor. Several of the other vehicles that have been listed will never see the conditions a f series will like Salt and calcium chloride. And any other things the state wants to use for clearing snow and ice. It will be interesting in a few more years. One farm I worked on we had 2 aluminum body trucks one was a Ford cab over the other was a pete. The Ford was older when I was there but we replace the cab for the 2nd time when I was there. and the pete was new they have since replace the cab on that from corrosion.
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:16 AM   #10
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I do some work on automobiles and rv's. I repair and paint bumpers and such and occasionally fenders. I have fixed holes in aluminum. It is a different animal. Metal has what I call memory. Steel when bent can be pushed or pulled back to the form it was before. Aluminum when bent , thats its new shape. Aluminum, also doesn't bend as far as steel, it reaches a certain point and it breaks or rips. I've heard from alot of dent guys that they pretty much are not able to fix a lot of aluminum cars and trucks. The worst thing I've seen about aluminum that makes me not to ever own one is the corrosion that happens when you put aluminum and steel too close together. Ford explorers hoods at the front edge have had this problem since they went to aluminum. Your know thats the problem when the paint starts to bubble and when it starts to flake off, you'll see the white powdery corrosion behind it. I've mainly seen it on just Explorers.
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Old 08-05-2021, 12:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freestyle_freddy View Post
I don't see a lot of discussion on Ford's newer aluminum body in these forums, so I thought I would relate my unique experience with the old Ford steel bodies & the newer aluminum bodies in separate, but identical accidents.
I had a 2008 F450 towing my 34ft 5th wheel fulltime, when we had an accident in 2013, where the steel tailgate popped open in the middle of a slow, right turn in a campground. The tailgate fell against the front of the 5er & damaged both the tailgate, tail lights & the front of the 5er. the tailgate literally looked like a pretzel & I immediately threw it in a dumpster. Damage to the 5er was around $4K, & the truck damage was several thousand dollars also.
Fast forward to 2021 when I'm currently driving a 2017 F350 Platinum diesel dually, which has an electrically operated aluminum tailgate. Ford had problems with the wiring shorting & the tailgate dropping, which I had fixed on a recall 2 years ago. But recently, under identical circumstances, I was turning right out of a camping site, just as I did 8 years earlier, & the tailgate popped open & fell against the 5er in the exact same spot. The damage to the 5er was very similar, but there literally was no damage to the tailgate. There was a tiny scratch on the top right corner of the tailgate that would not even be noticed if you weren't looking for it.
My conclusion is that the aluminum body is much more rigid & didn't buckle & twist like the steel body did. Since the accidents were virtually identical, I feel fairly confident in my assessment.
Has anyone else had similar experiences with steel vs aluminum?
And that is why you need this......

actually I modified this to remove the spring - poor choice of spring, it stretched too much....
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Old 08-05-2021, 12:56 PM   #12
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There are many different aluminum alloys. Out board motors use corrosion resistant alloys because they are often used in salt water.

Aluminum canoes can be lake type or white water type. White water type are much more resistant to denting from rocks due to heat treatment of a certain alloy (usually thicker as well).

I don't know what alloy Ford is using, but my knowledge is decades old. I am sure technology development has made advances.
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Old 08-05-2021, 02:18 PM   #13
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There are aluminum boats and ships use in saltwater.
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Old 08-05-2021, 05:06 PM   #14
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There are aluminum boats and ships use in saltwater.
Yep; mostly 5052 IIRC

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